LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attack and the Grenfell Tower fire in London during her annual Christmas Day message Monday.
Speaking from Buckingham Palace, she told of the “privilege” of meeting those injured in the Manchester attack that killed 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert.
She also commended the country’s emergency services, which have endured a difficult year with a series of terror attacks in London.
The Queen also spoke about those who lost family members in the Grenfell Tower fire in which 71 people perished.
“For many, the idea of ‘home’ reaches beyond a physical building — to a hometown or city,” she said in her televised address.
“This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past 12 months in the face of appalling attacks. In Manchester, those targeted included children who had gone to see their favorite singer. A few days after the bombing, I had the privilege of meeting some of the young survivors and their parents.
“I describe that hospital visit as a privilege because the patients I met were an example to us all, showing extraordinary bravery and resilience. Indeed, many of those who survived the attack came together just days later for a benefit concert. It was a powerful reclaiming of the ground, and of the city those young people call home.”
The UK has been hit by a number of terror attacks over the past year with three of those targeting London.
In March, a terrorist plowed his vehicle into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament.
In June, a vehicle and knife attack left eight people dead in the London Bridge area of the capital.
Later that month, one man died and nine people were hospitalized after a terrorist attack targeting London’s Muslim community.
In Manchester, 22 were killed and 60 injured during May’s suicide bomb attack on the city’s concert hall.
The Queen also spoke of her pain of the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, as well as those who lost their homes and loved ones in Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“We expect our homes to be a place of safety — sanctuary even — which makes it all the more shocking when the comfort they provide is shattered,” she said.
“A few weeks ago, the Prince of Wales visited the Caribbean in the aftermath of hurricanes that destroyed entire communities. And here in London, who can forget the sheer awfulness of the Grenfell Tower fire?
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who died and those who lost so much; and we are indebted to members of the emergency services who risked their own lives, this past year, saving others. Many of them, of course, will not be at home today because they are working, to protect us.”
The Queen also took the opportunity to speak of her 70 years of marriage to Prince Philip, and his decision to retire from public engagements.
She said that events of the past year made her “grateful for the blessings of home and family, and in particular for 70 years of marriage.”
And she hinted at the arrival of new family members, with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry planning to marry in May, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge expecting their third child in April.
“I don’t know that anyone had invented the term ‘platinum’ for a 70th wedding anniversary when I was born,” she said.
“You weren’t expected to be around that long. Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little — having, as he economically put it, ‘done his bit.’
“But I know his support and unique sense of humor will remain as strong as ever, as we enjoy spending time this Christmas with our family and look forward to welcoming new members into it next year.”